Carrier IQ: Helping Operators Deliver Better Service from Cell Phone Data

There's been a lot of publicity over the past couple of weeks about the collection of personal information on mobile devices and, in particular, location information. It is a given that operators need to know where you are so they can route calls to and from your device and generate a bill. But, as Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy discusses here, what has been less clear is what other information operators collect and for what purpose.


While mobile users may be naturally wary of having software report on what their cell phone is up to, there is an equally natural expectation that network quality, device performance and customer care meet the highest standards.

Carrier IQ has balanced its need for information with the users' privacy expectation with a model that delivers information on the users' experiences to service providers and device manufacturers. This model is based on the agreements these companies make with their customers. This can run the gamut from anonymous statistics aggregated from millions of devices that analyze dropped calls to specific configuration of a user's device used to assist a care agent during a customer support call.

Up until now, most mobile analytics were captured by vans with monitoring equipment that roamed areas to measure local carrier signal strength or to analyze the operators' billing information. Now, the folks at Carrier IQ are working with numerous wireless operators and mobile device makers and have embedded a small piece of monitoring software that periodically reports device performance data using a secure encrypted channel to Carrier IQ's customers. This software is like an "E.T. phone home" process. Plus, this quality assurance data collection process is designed not to adversely affect the battery life.

Depending on the use case, Carrier IQ can collect information that reports on dropped calls (where and when, along with signal information at the time), battery life and reliability issues with the device, network performance and throughput, application usage, Web analytics, and quality of connection over time. Carrier IQ works with mobile operators, mobile device manufacturers and research companies to provide the best, true intelligence on what's really going on inside the mobile device.